The LSU Tigers are set to face the Tennessee Volunteers this weekend. Check out our college basketball odds series, which includes our LSU Tennessee prediction, odds, and pick.

The LSU Tigers were unbeaten heading into the final week of December, but their SEC schedule was going to be a monster in the next month, and the monster has drawn blood from the Tigers. LSU lost to Auburn in late December and has more recently lost to both Arkansas and Alabama. The Tigers have scored significant wins over Tennessee (at home) and against Kentucky, but the SEC has provided a gauntlet which has taken a pound of flesh from coach Will Wade’s group.

The big problem for LSU in recent weeks has been its offense. LSU scored just two points in the final nine minutes of the home-court loss to Arkansas, a spectacular drought for a team which has usually been reliable and resilient in late-game situations. LSU’s offense then withered again versus Alabama. The Tigers fell behind 57-44 midway through the second half. Their offense bogged down and endured a lot of empty possessions. LSU did rally to tie thegame at 58-all, but the mountain was too tall to fully scale. Alabama had more in the tank at the very end and dealt LSU another rough loss. When considering an LSU Tennessee pick in light of the posted college basketball odds, you need to realize that LSU’s offense simply hasn’t gotten key contributions from role players in recent weeks. Every player on the floor needs to become a threat. It can’t be a situation in which only two or three players carry the freight; defenses will cheat off the less productive players if this situation continues.

Tennessee was hammered at Kentucky a week ago. The Vols’ formidable defense was shredded for 107 points. The Vols were embarrassed, and they needed to respond well earlier this week at Vanderbilt. They did. They hit their free throws and maintained their poise down the stretch in a victory which reset their season and provided them with a renewed, positive outlook. The Vols did lose to LSU earlier in the season, but that game was in Baton Rouge. If you are thinking about an LSU Tennessee prediction, relative to the LSU Tennessee odds, remember that this game is in Knoxville and Thompson-Boling Arena.

Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the LSU-Tennessee odds:

College Basketball Odds: LSU-Tennessee Odds

LSU: +5.5 (-106)

Tennessee: -5.5 (-114)

Over: 131.5 (-114)

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Under: 131.5 (-106)

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Why LSU Could Cover the Spread

The Tigers’ offense is suffering, but LSU regularly plays quality defense under Will Wade. The Tigers are highly unlikely to endure the kind of drought which crushed them against Arkansas. Even though LSU has to fix its offense, it’s not as though the Tigers need to be dynamic at that end of the floor. They merely need to be average or slightly above it. If they are, their defense will take care of the rest. It’s when LSU’s offense becomes below average that the Tigers are in trouble. Given how poorly Tennessee shoots the ball from the perimeter, LSU should cover as long as the Tigers bring their typical defensive energy and attentiveness.

Why Tennessee Could Cover the Spread

The LSU drought watch is on. Against Arkansas and then against Alabama, the Tigers went through a prolonged dry period which proved to be central in shaping the outcome of the game. The Vols are very strong on defense. They can certainly create another long LSU drought which turns a close game into a 10-point win.

Final LSU-Tennessee Prediction & Pick

The Vols might win outright, but they don’t have the offense to pull away from LSU game and win comfortably. This has the look and feel of a tense grinder which will go down to the final 30 seconds. LSU covers.

Final LSU-Tennessee Pick: LSU +5.5